The travails of Jesse Jackson Jr.

Kenneth Timmerman President, Foundation for Democracy in Iran
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Ah, that Jackson family! Jesse Jr. now appears to be in a plea bargain with the feds over massive alleged embezzlement from his campaign account — “approximately $750,000,” according to The Washington Post.

I’m sure many of you reading this are not surprised. After all, this is the same Jesse Jackson Jr. who got caught up with Blago in 2008 when Obama’s Illinois Senate seat was up for sale — sorry, was vacant and awaiting a gubernatorial appointment.

But I was surprised — that it took so long for the feds (and the national media) to catch up with him.

If Junior were a Republican, he would have been investigated long ago by every major newspaper and every blogger in the country.

I did a public records search on Jesse Junior when I was researching Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson in 2001. What I found then is almost comic when read against today’s news.

“The young Jacksons were big spenders,” I wrote in Shakedown (pg. 62). “They liked fast cars in addition to multiple residences, and owned numerous BMWs as well as an Isuzu Trooper.

“After Jesse Jr. went to Congress, the couple maintained a pair of older BMWs (hers a 1991 BMW 525i, Illinois plates “BLK66”; his a 735i, Illinois plates “D523242”), and purchased three more. For the congressman there was a 1993 two-door 850ci coupe with prestige tags (“2CG”), and a 1995 840ci with vanity plates (“REPZNTN”).

“The BMW 850 series is the top of the line sports cars, boasting a ripping 5.0-liter, 322-horsepower, V-12 engine that listed new in 1993 at a modest $88,720 without options. … The younger Jackson’s 1995 840ci is a slightly more modest version equipped with a 4.4-liter, 32-valve, V-8 engine that listed new for a mere $72,000. Sandra bought a 1995 740i four-door sedan (plates “D723000”) … that listed for $59,900 new. The young couple had $300,000 in automobiles alone — not chump change for someone who listed his salary at $26,029 per year.”

Now The Washington Post regretfully reports that Junior is close to finalizing a plea bargain with the feds on allegations of using campaign cash — lots and lots of it — to buy things like Michael Jackson fan paraphernalia, including a $4,600 fedora worn by the pop star, and a gold Rolex watch he purchased for $43,350. And that’s without mentioning another $582,773 in charges he and a co-conspirator (The Post hints, his wife) racked up on the campaign credit card for “purchases for their own use.”

Hey, Washington Post: What took you guys so long? I guess the same could be said to the FBI.

If anyone had bothered to look at Junior’s initial financial disclosure forms when he first came to Congress, they would have discovered lots of material worth sniffing around.

Again, as I pointed out in Shakedown: “Jesse Jackson Jr. had an impressive portfolio of mutual funds for someone fresh out of law school, with a limited employment history, and who was only 30 years old. He disclosed that he owned ten mutual funds each worth between $15,000 and $50,000, one fund worth between $50,000 and $100,000, and two more funds worth between $1,000 and $15,000.

“Taken together, the spread of Junior’s stock portfolio ranged somewhere between $200,000 and $630,000, in addition to the $300,000 in automobiles, and his three residences whose combined value was assessed for tax purposes at more than $700,000 at the time of these disclosures, in late 1995.”

“And this was just his personal wealth,” I concluded in this brief section on the elder of the Jackson sons.

“Jesse Jr. soon became a PAC-man, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars during each election cycle from political action committees and major corporations, money that naturally came with strings attached. Big labor (including H.E.R.E. — his former employer) was a major donor, but so were trial lawyers, pro-abortion groups, teachers and government employees unions, and a few choice companies whose names resonate from his father’s shakedowns both past and present: Anheuser-Busch, Ameritech, Bank of America, Citicorp, Nike. It was a good haul.”

Kenneth R. Timmerman is the founder and president of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran and the author of “Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson.”